Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Let's Read _Fairy Dust and the Quest For the Egg_!

Before we get into this, here's some art:
152. Khirsah Fireflash
I am trying to develop a better work ethic, therefore I am attempting to finish a new painting at least every Tuesday and Thursday.
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Let's be honest. The "Tinkerbell" movie (I'll eventually get to it) isn't half as interesting as all the "Tinkerbell" movie hoopla. Disney has been planning this Tinker-assault for years now.

One of the first Tinker-thingies to arrive in this world was a book entitled Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg, written by Gail Carson Levine. In it, we are introduced to Tinkerbell and her little Fairy friends who are (so I've heard) replaced by an entirely different set of Fairy friends in the movie. Huh.

Anyway, I am now going to read this book. Do read along with me, won't you? When you're done, please answer these semi-rhetorical

Discussion Questions!

1) In "Peter Pan" (not just Disney's film but the original James M. Barrie play), Tinkerbell was a mischievous, mood-swing prone, clingy, jealous girl who deeply resented the new arrivals in Neverland -- especially Wendy. Here, she's suddenly transformed into a sweet, friendly, one-Fairy welcoming committee who greets new Neverland arrivals, flits around the magical tree with the other Fairies, fixes broken cookware, and gets downright Emo rather than resentful when the subject of Wendy comes up. What does this imply about both Disney and society as a whole?

2) One of the new characters is a Fairy named Vidia. Now, Tinkerbell is of course a pretty blond, her BFF Rani is a pretty blond, and the heroine, Prilla, is a cute light-brunette. They all wear the stereotyped little foo-foo frilly Fairy dresses and smile all the time. Vidia, in marked contrast, is a sort of Goth-chick Fairy with very dark hair, and she is -come to think of it- as mischievous and feisty as Tinkerbell used to be. In this book, she is one of the heroes of the story, which would be a welcome change. But she is also the only really mean character; even Captain Hook isn't so nasty. I have heard that she later on turns out to be a villain, and in any case she is largely absent from more recent promotional materials. What does this indicate about Disney's legendary inability to deal with characters with anything more interesting than a "Lawful Good" (boyscout-like, to you non-geeks) alignment?

3)Every Never Land Fairy has a special power or "talent". They range from music to water-bending manipulation to keyhole design. There are also talents, like baking and animal, that have specialized subtalents as well, like cookie cutting and caterpillar herding. Now, aside from the exception that forms the plot of this book, every single Fairy knows what their talent is from the moment they arrive in Never Land. So what happens if a born Water Fairy decides he'd rather bake cookies?

4) Speaking of male Fairies. Here, they are called Sparrow-Men instead. Now, there isn't any way to word this question without it sounding very bad, but you KNOW Disney was desperate to avert this: doesn't the phrase "Sparrow Man" actually sound more gay than "Male Fairy"?

5) Early on, we are told that Never Land is an island that "moves". Later, we learn that Prilla mentally "jumps" from Never Land to different places (and times?) on the mainland. So, who is Prilla's Constant?

6) Rani is a Water Fairy who desperately longs to swim. Never Fairies can't swim because their wings get in the way. Eventually, Rani has her wings cut off so she can swim. Now, this is admittedly more of a heroic sacrifice than anything (she needed to ask the Mermaids for help), but is "you may have to mutilate yourself to do what you want" really a message little girls need to hear?

7) Why in the world is the Light Fairy named Fira on the cover illustration (upper right) if she isn't even mentioned once in the text?

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This is totally unrelated but I had to share it. Because - and this is damn scary - I really can't tell if it's a parody or for real. The caustic attitudes of the three adult campers seems to indicate a parody, but everything else, including the kids' dialogue, is absolutely authentic to the time period. I'm not kidding.
Remember that in the early 90's, people on television actually dressed like this. This is what high-paid television writers actually thought rap songs sounded like:

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